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What is manufacturing education and research?

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Manufacturing education encompasses a wide range of teachings, including degree programs that prepare graduates for roles as engineers and technologists in manufacturing. It also includes special training and/or certificate programs that prepare graduates for roles in technical positions as technicians and skilled workers, as well as professional development courses and continuing education for the manufacturing workforce.

A curriculum focused on manufacturing is the preferred choice by industry for individuals who fulfill the role of a manufacturing engineer or manufacturing technologist. The manufacturing engineer uses knowledge and expertise to invent, design, integrate and improve technical manufacturing processes and, in support of product design, to provide producibility analysis. The manufacturing technologist's role is to apply his/her knowledge to develop production systems and improve or support manufacturing processes today.

While the primary responsibility of the manufacturing engineer and/or technologist tends to focus on the technologies associated with materials and processes used in manufacturing, there is an increasing trend toward involvement in other core activities of the business.

ABET-accredited manufacturing engineering programs must meet certain criteria, which includes demonstrating that graduates have proficiency in materials and manufacturing processes, as well as (1) understanding the behavior and properties of materials as they are altered and influenced by processing in manufacturing; (2) process, assembly and product engineering: understanding the design of products and the equipment, tooling and environment necessary for their manufacture; (3) manufacturing competitiveness: understanding the creation of competitive advantage through manufacturing planning, strategy and control; and (4) manufacturing systems design: understanding the analysis, synthesis and control of manufacturing operations using statistical and calculus based methods, simulation and information technology.

ABET-accredited manufacturing engineering technology programs must meet the following criteria: demonstrate that graduates have the ability to apply the technologies of materials, manufacturing processes, tooling, automation, productions operations, maintenance, quality, industrial organization and management and statistics to the solution of manufacturing problems.

Manufacturing research includes both basic and applied research in areas of materials, manufacturing processes, including material forming and material removal, and manufacturing systems. The call for papers for the North American Manufacturing Research Conference (NAMRC) of the North American Manufacturing Research Institution of SME (NAMRI/SME) includes the following as examples of research subjects:

  • Computer-aided design and manufacturing, including robotics, automation and rapid prototyping.
  • Design, dynamics, control and accuracy of machine tools.
  • Environmentally conscious manufacturing.
  • Human factors and man-machine interactions relating to manufacturing processes and systems.
  • Nano to microscale manufacturing.
  • Manufacturing networks.
  • Manufacturing systems, simulation, design and concurrent engineering.
  • Material behavior and tribology as related to manufacturing processes.
  • Mechanics and technology of material forming processes, powder consolidation, casting, welding and processing polymer and composite materials.
  • Mechanics and technology of material removal processes as well as nontraditional processes.
  • Metrology.
  • Product lifecycle management and environmentally conscious manufacturing.

SME's Manufacturing Education & Research Community addresses curricula and ongoing education as well as research topics and techniques, and represents the largest base of higher education and research professionals specifically dedicated to the science and knowledge used in manufacturing.